Just in time for Mental Health Awareness Week this week (May 13-19), David Foreman, founder of the supplements education service Herbal Pharmacist, spoke at the show in Geneve about stress and told delegates this is a massive market for supplements companies to tap into.
“Everyone has some sort of stress. If you don’t have stress then I say you don’t have a pulse...And mental health is probably the biggest area you can go into in terms of health food.
“Food plays an important role in our health and how we adapt and I’m a huge advocate of getting what we can out of our daily diet."
The retired pharmacy owner pointed out that stress originates in the brain and therefore argued that the best way to reduce signs of stress is to consume food and supplements that 'nourish' the adrenal system - This system produces hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol which are produced during times of stress.
As such, stress can cause a whole range of health issues involving the immune system, nervous system, respiratory system and more.
Foreman revealed that he has suffered with severe and prolonged stress in the past which he said 'almost killed' him.
“When you have elevated cortisol for a long period of time it becomes a strain on your body as it increases blood pressure and insulin resistance, alters your immune responses, suppresses your digestive system and decreases your sex hormone.
“This makes us a walking ticking time bomb for other diseases.”
He pointed out that people often take paracetamol for headaches but, if these headaches are stress related, then this will exacerbate the issue as the drug is a stimulant and this has a negative effect on the adrenal system which is already being ‘beaten up’ during stress.
Whilst herbal remedies are far better for us in this sense, Foreman still doesn’t believe that many of the remedies on the market are truly helping the user.
“I could easily tell you a herbal tea that will make you feel better if you’re stressed but if we are really in the industry of health care we shouldn’t just be looking to sell one more bottle. We should be looking to help people to get to the route of the issue."
He added: “If we nourish the adrenal system and allow our own bodies to create the right amount of neuro-transmitters for our own bodies these ingredients might not work in the short term but they will in the long term.”
Good Mood Foods
Two of the main supplements he believes we should take to support the adrenal system are Magnesium and Pyridoxal 5′ phosphate (PLP), otherwise known as P5P. In a healthy body, the liver converts vitamin B6 into P5P.
He also recommended Rhodiola and Ashwagandha and pointed out that ingredients known to support the limbic system – the brain – are: L-Theanine (in tea), Hemp Oil, Omega 3 and Chamomile.
Foreman listed a range of ‘stress free foods’ containing some of these vitamins, minerals and nutrients: Omega 3 (DHA’s), Chamomile, green tea, dark chocolate, nuts, greens, oranges, oats, avocados, asparagus, berries.
He also recommended the supplements Zembrin as it has been shown, through MRI studies, to work directly in the Amygdala - the part of the brain known to have a key role in the processing of emotions.